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The British introduced trade restrictions which bankrupted farmers and businessmen in Ireland. Like Collins, he had fought in the 1916 rising, received a death sentence – later commuted – risked death on the losing side in the civil war, declined to fight for the Allies in the Second World War, yet saw his country triumphantly – if belatedly – join the UN. There’s a crack train from Belfast Central to Dublin Connelly several times a day, so the Flying Scotsman will go on racing down from Edinburgh Waverley to King’s Cross without stopping at the border.
Ireland’s 800-year history of English occupation puts Scotland’s misery into the shade. But in Ireland, there was a place put aside for those 30 per cent who voted No – or would have done, if they hadn’t been square-bashing to fight both the Catholics and the British army.
In Scottish terms, it was as if the Yes voters were to receive Edinburgh as their capital, but the Noes given Glasgow as a consolation prize with a few of the lowlands still in UK territory to keep them happy.
Shipyards, courage and desolation mean that Glasgow and Belfast have a lot in common. The Protestant-Catholic struggle which divided Ireland (though not as much as the British think) has little or no role in the Scottish independence debate, save perhaps for the historical memory that Scots Protestant planters displaced Catholics in 17th-century Ireland.
During the reign of King James III (1466 - 1488), gold coins were introduced that featured a Unicorn, and at the time of King James VI of Scotland’s succeeding of Elizabeth I of England, and the resulting effective union of the two countries, the Scottish Royal Arms featured two unicorns as shield supporters.
In a gesture of unity, King James replaced the one on the left with the English lion.